Image description: This a picture of a swing set with two toddler swings and two adult sized swings. The swings are stabilized with harness chains attached to yellow rods which are implanted into the wood fibre surface.
I was astonished when I realized that there is a “hidden city” within my very own community. I visited my local park and realized that it had a typical playground with a swing set, slides and monkey bars. However, there was no protective or aiding gear for children with disabilities; due to this, it would not be considered an inclusive environment.
I thought about what Mingus mentioned in her article, “Changing the Frame Work: Disability Justice” (2011), to have a “model of disability that embraces difference, confronts privilege and challenges what is considered ‘normal’ on every front” (p.1). The structure of a typical playground only allows children without barriers and challenges to enjoy the playground experience. However, we must fight the odds! Playgrounds need to be accessible and inclusive for all; whether the children have disabilities or not. They should be provided with adequate aiding equipment such as ramps and swings with harness chains to provide stability for children who may have limited upper body strength.
Unprivileged children deserve the same rights and opportunities as others, they deserve an inclusive playground. They should not be singled out, they need a sense of belonging and acceptance in a safe environment where they can engage and play with other children as they please. The point is to eliminate segregation and acknowledge the inferior feelings of the disadvantaged children and not inhibit their underlying talents. Inclusive playgrounds definitely foster opportunities in the local community to enable the children to be courageous with caution, creative in their play and engage with all their senses. This provides them the exciting opportunity to actively challenge their physical skills and to interact with their peers on the playground.
As Naomi Overan (2007) expresses in the ‘Hidden City’ podcast that “residential neighbourhoods are like fortresses to people in wheelchairs” and how she hates being a “spectacle” and how she feels “separate from everyone else around her.” I imagined Naomi as a child in a wheelchair, visiting the same playground in my neighborhood. I observed that it is unfair for a child to feel alienated in his/her own community and peers. Mingus suggested that “our communities and movements must address the issue of access” (2011, p.1) and work together since “disability justice has the power to not only challenge our thinking about access but to fundamentally change the way we understand organizing and how we fight for social change” (2011, p.2). She conveys that it’s not only the city of Mississauga’s duty to carry out accessibility legislations but it’s our responsibility – as a society, to inform and influence our neighbor towards making a change.
The Disabled City [Audio blog interview]. (2007). Retrieved from http://curio.ca.ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/en/audio/the-disabled-city-4271/
Mingus, M. (2011). Changing the Framework: Disability Justice. Retrieved from https://leavingevidence.wordpress.com/2011/02/12/changing-the-framework-disability-justice/